Monday, March 25, 2013

Rugby Commercial Analyzed

This year's Cathay Pacific ad video for the Hong Kong Sevens, Always Game, has several themes that I've noticed over the years. Obviously, the ad highlights the flight attendants' beauty. Their approach is not as crass as that of Nok Air, but they are still selling the women's looks (pretty face, shapely bodies, and friendly smile). This has been a long-standing theme for Cathay Pacific. It seems that 80% of their flight attendants are female, and they still are able to impose strict standards on the colors of the make-up, to hire based on good looks, and to force older attendants to retire.

The ad also is a "feel good" ad about Hong Kong. It has local allusions that many non-locals might not get. There is the double-decker bus, the Star Ferry, and of course the skyscrapers. The dim sum steamers also are a local touch, and the flying dumplings are like rugby balls being kicked, trying to link Hong Kong with rugby. The flight attendants' numbers on their backs, the lifting of a flight attendant like in a lineout, and the running with the bag (think ball) all refer to rugby.

Other parts of the commercial refer back to the popular 2011 Cathay ad (which was so popular it was recycled for 2012, which was a bit disappointing). The ad agency was McGann Worldgroup, and according to CulturePub, the title was "Mind vs Muscles" (but their video and caption seems to miss the point that the ad was for the Hong Kong Sevens, and the players in black are not the All Blacks, but anyway. It is not really clear why the players--several of whom are recognizable HK Sevens team players, are dressed in black.)  In case you were not sure about it, they show parts of the video on a screen in the background, as the flight attendants walk around. The girl brushes off the boy's chest, just like in the old commercial. And the high heeled cleats refer to the amusing ending of the 2011 commercial.

There is one comment by a fan on the Cathay website that sums up the many people's views of the ad:
I LOVE this commercial! I can't understand it but then its got everything. great music, hong kong elements, gorgeous girls, rugby
As an aside, when the flight attendants were threatenting to work to rule over the 2012 Christmas holidays if they did not get a better deal from Cathay management, a certain C. Anderson wrote to the SCMP saying:
Where is the 'care' Cathay crew pledged?
Do Cathay Pacific flight attendants have a death wish for their company?
I am no fan of incompetent management and have no idea if Cathay is run well or not, but I do take exception to a union whose members have claimed to care about their passengers, but who seemingly care more about what lines their pockets than their travelling customers or the Hong Kong institution that employs them.
See the rest of the letter here [subscription required]. This letter is hilarious in its ignorance. It seems to believe that the ads are put out by the flight attendants' union, rather than by management that is selling its flight attendants under the guise of "good service." While it is true that service on Cathay Pacific is far superior to that on United, for example, it is also true that Cathay is a allowed to set rules that would not be legal in the US.

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